Community Workshop Planned for Proposed Rail Trail Norfolk Residents, Abutters Invited to May 26 Meeting
By Grace Allen
Norfolk residents are invited to a community workshop discussing the town’s portion of the new trail network known as the Metacomet Greenway. The workshop will be held on Thursday, May 26 at 7 p.m., location to be determined with a possible Zoom option.
Organizers hope residents will attend to give input on the proposed multi-use trail. Abutters, especially, are encouraged to attend since they will be directly impacted. Feedback from the community workshop will be incorporated into the feasibility study currently underway. This is the second community workshop for Norfolk; the first one was held on February 17.
“This forum is for anyone to come, voice concerns, ask questions, and be a part of the process to make this trail a reality in our town,” said Zach McKeever of Norfolk, president of the Metacomet Greenway Association. “This is a great opportunity, especially for trail neighbors, to learn what’s going on and have any worries, such as privacy, addressed.”
The proposed 17-mile trail will be built on an abandoned rail line and will run from Walpole through Norfolk, past the Rice Complex in Wrentham, then south into Plainville and North Attleboro.
The stretch through Norfolk is 1.5 miles, while Wrentham will host 6 miles of trail. Community workshops for Wrentham’s feasibility study have not yet been announced.
Norfolk has hired the engineering firm BETA Group to conduct the feasibility study, which is funded by Norfolk’s Community Preservation Fund. The feasibility study will address both technical and community challenges in the construction of the trail, as well as environmental issues with the goal of minimizing any impact in sensitive areas.
Some specific considerations to be addressed by the feasibility study include the types of road crossings at Hill and Pine Streets in Norfolk, as well as access points, parking, lighting, signage, and public safety requirements.
Trail surface types are also under discussion, but McKeever says the current preference is for a paved, twelve-foot-wide surface to meet Department of Transportation requirements.
“The cost and funding (and town vote) will play into what type of surface is eventually placed,” noted McKeever. “It could be different in different towns, but the goal of the Metacomet Greenway Association is to try to keep the surface consistent and keep a unified path.”
Visitors to other area multi-use trails, like the Upper Charles Rail Trail in Holliston, for example, might notice trail enhancements such as historical markers and signage, memorial benches, play and exercise areas, picnic tables, bike pump stations, and dog waste station bag dispensers. McKeever says it’s never too early to talk about some of those details for the Metacomet Greenway and suggests the community workshop on May 26 might be a good place to start.
“If people want to see those kinds of things sooner rather than later, they can bring them to the table now and potentially they can be incorporated into our design and construction plan,” he said.
The Metacomet Greenway has the potential to transform the communities it will run through by providing family-friendly options for walking, running, biking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and birding. Rail trails can also host large events that help bring a community together. In Holliston, the Upper Charles Rail Trail holds an annual First Night Trail Walk complete with bonfires and food, a 5K/10K trail run, and a story walk. The Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT) in Franklin hosts monthly group and guided walks.
Follow the Metacomet Greenway on Facebook or visit the group’s website at https://metacometgreenway.org for finalized details on the May 26 meeting. There may be an opportunity for residents to submit questions for the workshop ahead of time.
Contact McKeever at [email protected] for more information.